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Italian Food Philanthropy, A Pizza Obituary, And More NYC Food News

Two new impressive Italian food philanthropy initiatives to report, a NYC pizza legend passes suddenly, a Venice/Brooklyn chef and restaurant mash-up, and more.

A dining room at Major Food Group’s Torrisi Bar and Restaurant in SoHo.

A dining room at Major Food Group's Torrisi Bar and Restaurant in SoHo.

Major Food Does Major Good

Chef Rich Torrisi and Major Food Group have announced a reboot of its Major Good charitable giving program, via Forbes, teaming up with NYC’s Robin Hood Foundation to fight poverty. 

Torrisi and his partners, Mario Carbone and Jeff Zalaznick, have been on a 10-year tear since opening the first Carbone in Manhattan, with restaurants in Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Boston, Paris, and Tel Aviv. One of the newest, Torrisi Bar and Restaurant in Manhattan’s SoHo, will seemingly be the HQ of this new philanthropic initiative, with dinners in a private dining room that will benefit Robin Hood

“As a proud New Yorker, Torrisi Bar and Restaurant was an opportunity to recommit myself to my home city that I love and I am equally proud to relaunch Major Good and our partnership with Robin Hood,” Torrisi tells Forbes. “Through these dinners we will help provide resources to the amazing people on the ground that run these incredible food-insecurity focused Robin Hood programs.”

Robin Hood’s website notes, “We fuel permanent escapes from poverty by funding, supporting, and connecting community organizations that give every New Yorker a shot.” The announcement in Forbes notes that Major Good proceeds will fund Robin Hood’s community partners fighting food insecurity, including City Harvest and the Food Bank for New York City.

Anyone who donates at least $30,000 can host an event at Torrisi, with Chef Torissi himself cooking specially curated menus for guests in the private room. Reservations and inquiries can be made on the Torrisi website.

Ashley Lauren Foundation Announces Chefs Who Care Benefit With Italian Theme

Well-known chefs will join forces to raise funds to fight pediatric cancer for the Ashley Lauren Foundation at a July 17 event at the English Manor in Ocean Township, NJ, on the Jersey shore, about 60 miles from Manhattan.

The Chefs Who Care event will raise funds and awareness for the foundation while honoring entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Gary Kong. Chefs scheduled to attend and cook include Appetito contributor Angelo Competiello and respected Italian chefs Fabrizio Facchini, Silvia Barban, Cesare Cassella, and Joe Settepani, among other well-known chefs including Jacques Torres. 

The chefs will prepare dishes inspired by the Italian Riviera, with Italian wine and spirits served as well. 

Monica Vermeulen, Executive Director of The Ashley Lauren Foundation, founded the organization in 2005 after her 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer. “This event will strengthen our ability to bring much-needed resources and assistance to children and their families who are facing the horrific disease of pediatric cancer,” says Vermeulen. All proceeds from the Chefs Who Care event will directly benefit The Ashley Lauren Foundation.

Tickets for the July 17 Chefs Who Care event are $175 per person and are available for purchase at

More Italian NYC Food News

New York City pizza legend Andrew Bellucci died suddenly on Wednesday inside his Astoria, Queens pizza shop. Bellucci, credited with helping reopen coal-fired pizza landmark Lombardi’s in Manhattan in 1994, was 59. His notoriety included reviving the restaurant considered the first New York pizzeria, as well as serving a 13-month prison stint for embezzling money from a law firm where he’d worked, and opening his swan song Andrew Bellucci’s Pizzeria in Astoria. >>> A new waterfront Italian steakhouse across the river Manhattan has opened in Jersey City. According to, Felina Steak, an offshoot of the Felina Italian restaurant in Ridgewood, NJ, will combine “old school” Italian dishes with steakhouse offerings in the Hudson Hall events venue with skyline views of NYC. >>> A 64-year-old Italian “classic red sauce” restaurant, Frost, will have its last service this Sunday in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, reports Eater>>> Elsewhere in Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens landmark Marco Polo is celebrating its 40th anniversary by bringing in a chef from a restaurant in Venice, Italy that is also called Marco Polo. Chef Niccolo Perisinnotto will add a range of Venetian dishes to the Brooklyn Marco Polo menu during a weeklong residency June 6-10. Reservations are available on Marco Polo’s website.  

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